Multiple Sclerosis and Cognitive Problems

By: Jon Wegner

Boy, do I feel stupid today! I submitted an article yesterday to an ezine and I forgot to put my website in the resource box. How will anyone buy my products or signup for my newsletter without my website address? How stupid could I be but that leads me into today's article, cognitive problems with multiple sclerosis.

First of all, I'm not mentally handicapped although at times I can be mentally slower. It's just my MS reminding me that I have some cognitive problems. I have two college degrees and I've owned several small businesses in the past 23 years which have done very well. What I am is a man with multiple sclerosis which affects my cognitive thinking at times. In the case yesterday I was unfamiliar with the term resource box and didn't bother to look it up. I could have looked at other submitted articles to see what it was but I didn't. That's my loss and why I'm writing this article so close to the first one!

In 2001 I was working in Minneapolis at a company that sold cell phones. I started in April of 2001 and quit in October of 2002. Part of the reason why I quit was because the cell phones were becoming too complicated for me. We sold all the major brands of phones. I remember going to meetings that the cell phone companies would have once in a while. I would sit in the meetings and after about 20 minutes my mind would start wandering. Dick was a friend of mine at the company. I'd think to myself, I wonder where Dick wants to eat lunch today or I'd wonder if Doug wants to come with us. On real important points that I missed I would say to myself, I'll ask Doug about that later knowing full well I probably wouldn't remember what I'd missed.

Another cognitive problem I have is short term memory loss. This is doctor documented and is a common symptom for people with MS. My neurologist sent me to a psychologist one day who was to test my memory. I used to be very good at remembering the names of people. Now, unless I repeat their name a few times while I'm talking to them I just don't remember their names. I'll remember their faces but sometimes the name just doesn't come out! Most people are OK with that but some people seem to be upset that I don't remember their name. I'm also always losing things. I can be reading a piece of paper, set it down and when I come back 5 minutes later I can't find the piece of paper. My office looks like an atomic bomb hit it. I tell myself to pick things up but it never seems to get done. I have about 75 post-it notes on two separate desks in my office and I just keep piling them on.

I've had this problem since I don't know when. I've never been good at directions. If I'm being told directions I write them down. If someone say north and south or east and west I always say. Is that a right or left? I've lived in my little town for 4 years now and I still couldn't tell you if I'm on the north side of the tracks. When I had my carpet cleaning business from '88 to '93 I would be driving down the highway looking for an exit. When the exit came up I would have a flash of panic because I couldn't remember which direction to go. I knew where I wanted to go but I couldn't remember how to get there. Figure eight exits would drive me bonkers. I'm like that with a lot of things these days. I get the big picture of what I want to accomplish but I can't seem to figure out how to get from point A to point B. It can be frustrating to say the least!

There's an old saying that I say every once in a while. I'll use a substitute word for the profanity. People of my generation say, throw that crap against the wall and see what sticks. That's exactly how my brain seems to work nowadays. Nothing seems to stick. If I'm with 3 or 4 people and everyone is talking I will hear everything being said but nothing stays in my head. You might as well be talking to a chair or wall because I won't retain anything the next day unless it was earth shattering news. That can get very frustrating not only for me but also the people I'm talking to. I've learned to never leave home without a piece of paper and a pen so I can make notes. These are just a few of the cognitive problems that I have but there are more.

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